FIDE Women's GP set for close finish

Going into the ninth round, after a day’s rest, fifth seed Dronavalli Harika is leading the 12-player tournament with 5.5 points. But she is pursued, just half-a-point behind, by three players, including fellow-Indian Koneru Humpy.

Dronavalli Harika poses with a statue of Kung Fu Panda in Chengdu on her rest day.   -  Special Arrangement

The fourth and penultimate leg of the FIDE women’s Grand Prix chess is inching towards an interesting finale at Chengdu, China.

Going into the ninth round, after a day’s rest, fifth seed Dronavalli Harika is leading the 12-player tournament with 5.5 points. But she is pursued, just half-a-point behind, by three players, including fellow-Indian Koneru Humpy.

The top-seeded Humpy was, in fact, in the pole position until she was shocked in the seventh round by Harika. The fifth seed followed up her victory with a draw against Antoaneta Stefanova, a former world champion from Bulgaria, on Sunday and ensured that she retained her sole lead going into Monday’s rest day.

Stefanova and second seed Ju Wenjun of China are sharing the second position with Humpy. They are one point ahead of Russian Olga Girya, Georgia’s Bela Khotenashvili and Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine, the 2015 world champion, who is having a tough tournament.

In Tuesday’s ninth round, Humpy takes on Mariya’s elder sister Anna Muzychuk, while Harika meets Khotenashvili. Three rounds remain in this round-robin event.

The standings (after eight rounds): 1. Dronavalli Harika (Ind) 5.5; 2-4. Koneru Humpy (Ind), Ju Wenjun (Chn) & Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) 5; 5-7. Olga Girya (Rus), Bela Khotenashvili (Geo) & Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) 4; 8. Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) 3.5; 9-12. Pia Cramling (Swe), Lela Javakhishvili (Geo), Tan Zhangyi (Chn) & Zhao Xue (Chn).